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Copper Overload

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I would like to share with the readers of alive my story about a hidden illness that most doctors don't recognize. I feel this story could help a great many people.

I would like to share with the readers of alive my story about a hidden illness that most doctors don't recognize. I feel this story could help a great many people.

About two years ago I was diagnosed with something called copper overload. I had seen many traditional doctors but no one could figure out what was wrong with me. I had severe fatigue, a racing mind, yeast problems, bad sinus congestion, muscle twitching, prostate problems and severe emotional ups and downs. Things got worse. My job stress mounted, my fatigue worsened and I found that I couldn't handle sugar or fats very well anymore. I started to have problems with circulation in my hands and legs. When I was laid off from my job my symptoms intensified. My doctor thought I had multiple sclerosis. I waited three months to get a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan the wait made things a whole lot worse. My MRI was normal.

After the scan my doctor really didn't know what to do with me. He ordered tests. All were normal according to him. He implied it was all in my head and proceeded to prescribe anti-depressants (that's what doctors do when they can't find anything wrong with you). I was now branded a hypochondriac. After many more wasted trips to allopathic doctors pushing various pharmaceuticals on me, I finally found a naturopathic doctor. She suggested that I get a hair analysis to determine what was going on with my body on a cellular level. I was desperate. I had the hair analysis done. That's when I found out I had very high levels of copper as well as numerous deficiencies and excesses due to copper overload.

My naturopathic doctor suggested a change in diet and supplements to help chelate the copper from my system. I felt relieved, but when I went to my traditional doctor to tell him the findings, he just laughed and told me I was wasting my money!

With more stress my symptoms again got worse. I became hypo-thyroid: my morning body temperature lowered to 95.5°F (35.3°C) and I was suffering from dry skin and eyes, poor digestion and severe constipation among other symptoms. I then searched everywhere for information about copper overload. I found nothing. Was I really wasting my time and money?

A Light Turns On

After a year of chasing my tail searching for information and not really keeping up with my copper-free diet, I came across a book by Anne Louise Gittleman called Why Am I So Tired?

Finally, a book about copper overload! I realized that not all people get copper overload. It's usually slow metabolizers like myself that are affected. The unresolved stress in my life was depleting my body of zinc (the antagonist to copper). The more stress, the less zinc and the more copper builds up and affects your endocrine system, namely your adrenal and thyroid glands. My diet was full of copper nuts, seeds, chocolate, seafood, beer and lots of soy products (yes soy) all attributed to my condition. I had given up red meat to be healthier but one thing I didn't do was take additional zinc to off-set the high copper in soy. I was addicted to copper foods and didn't know it.

I'm not back to normal yet. I still suffer from hypothyroidism brought about by too much copper. I continue to eat a copper-free, zinc-heavy diet. I take supplements, care for my liver (that's where a lot of copper is stored) and I exercise as often as possible. Most importantly I avoid stress as much as possible. Copper also comes from the copper plumbing in homes.

I don't claim to be an expert, but I do suggest that anyone who suspects she may have a copper overload see a naturopathic doctor and get a hair analysis. It just may be the best investment you'll ever make.

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